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Welcome to this first newsletter from the Observatory for Sport in Scotland (OSS).

Since our seminar held in Glasgow in October 2015, where we sounded out views of
the wider sporting community, a small group of volunteers have been hard at work
shaping how the OSS vision might be taken forward.

This resulted in OSS being set up as a Registered Charity in August 2016. OSS has
been established to support and promote community sport by using robust data and independent research, free of any vested interests.

A strong Board of Trustees was appointed from a wide range of professional
backgrounds and who also share a common belief in the value and good of community sport.

Thanks to our Supporters

The Board of OSS is keen to get moving in earnest and was delighted when OSS
received a generous donation from The Alerce Trust. This funding, which is over three years, has given OSS a degree of sustainability allowing us to go to work on recruiting our first full-time staff member.

A donation from QTS, as well as in-kind support from SCVO and SCDI, helped get our 2015 Seminar off the ground and this year donations from Charlie Raeburn and Iain More have allowed OSS to appoint a part-time Interim Director, engage fundraising consultancy and top-level research proposal writing support, and create our website. Further in-kind support from generous individuals has sustained our administrative activities, done our accounts, created a business plan and helped shape our EU proposal work.

We thank them all for their generous support.

What’s happening now?

The support OSS has received has allowed it to:

Establish OSS as an organisation:
Having drawn up job specifications for key OSS posts, we have engaged third sector
recruitment specialists, BTA to provide a strong shortlist for the OSS Director position.

Please see here for more information and for a candidate pack, please email or phone 01786 542224.

Work on essential future OSS funding:
approaching a number of potential OSS donors and sponsors, using commissioned
research to identify them to develop project outlines which OSS has had scoped in
detail and wishes to commission directly in relation to participation.

Get involved in projects and research:
supporting the University of Stirling in a bid for funding to the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and working with IDAN (Danish Institute of Sport) on a bid to the Erasmus+ fund.

Connect with policy makers:
responding to the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into Sport, explaining the pressure much of community sport is under and the need for independent research and data in order to support decision making on policy and funding.

Find ways to reach out to the Scottish sporting community:
working with the University of the West of Scotland to hold a conference aimed at all interested in community sport (more on this in coming newsletters).

Keeping a focus on quality research

With much happening on the organisational and set-up front the OSS Board was keen that an OSS Research Advisory Group (RAG) be formed in order to keep the OSS’ core objectives front and centre. So, in November 2016 OSS’ RAG was established with one of its first tasks being to develop a Research Strategy. In essence this is a framework of research projects which OSS will seek to carry out over the coming three years, helping OSS deliver its core aims and objectives. At our conference planned for later in 2017, when the Research Strategy has been further developed, we would welcome feedback on the projects in it from Scotland’s sporting community.

We are fortunate to have a group with some serious academic firepower and
unparalleled experience in the field of sports research.

Introduction to the Chair – David Rider

david-rider1 What’s your background?

In my role as Development Director for an educational charity, I
explore and secure new ways of working for the benefit of young
people and at the same time widen the charities financial base.
This is my second career, having spent 25 years working in
banking and finance.

2 What sports are you and your family most interested in?
With a 7 year old son, these days I spend more time on the rugby sidelines watching
rather than playing, but every now and then I do manage to squeeze in a little golf
between fixtures. As a family we all enjoy cycling and I have (occasionally) been seen cycling to work in the summer months.

3 Your proudest sporting achievement?
BC (before children) I managed to find time for long distance running and triathlons, so anyone who manages to balance work, family and maintain a serious commitment to sport gains my utmost admiration.

4 Why did you get involved with OSS?
I launched a project to set up sports facilities for coaching young people from a wide
range of backgrounds and realised how little coordinated, up-to-date, evidence based research existed that showed the benefits of sports participation. I came across Charlie Raeburn in the process and he asked me to help him do something about the lack of data – I said yes.

5 If OSS could only achieve one thing, what would you like it to be?
To give organisations a key resource to help them make their case for more people to enjoy and benefit from sport.

The future

In future editions of this newsletter we would like to offer a slot for guest
commentators. Designed as platform where anyone involved in Scottish community
sport can comment, or reflect on the important current issues affecting those involved in sport directly. If you are interested please get in touch via the email address below.

If you are interested in supporting the work of OSS, or if you’d like to discuss anything you’ve read here, please get in touch at

Thank you again for your interest

Yours in sport

The OSS Team